KUALA LUMPUR, June 22 – Aurelius Healthcare, the group behind Aurelius Hospital Nilai, has launched its Menstrual Hygiene Awareness Campaign to highlight the importance of menstrual hygiene among students and young adults.
In conjunction with Menstrual Hygiene Day observed globally on May 28, this campaign aims to break the silence and change negative social norms surrounding the topic of menstruation.
The World Bank estimates that at least 500 million women and girls globally have limited access to adequate facilities for menstrual hygiene management.
Lack of education and improper sanitation infrastructure compound the issue, leading to poor menstrual hygiene across many communities.
This has a direct effect on educational opportunities, as well as the health and overall social status of women and girls around the world.
Period poverty — which refers to the inaccessibility of menstrual hygiene products due to financial constraints — has caused a wide health gap in lower-income communities.
Additionally, age-old taboos and stigmas attached to menstruation have formed an overall culture of silence around the topic, resulting in misinformation, which in turn can have severe ramifications on the health and dignity of girls and women.
As part of efforts to address this, Aurelius Healthcare is hosting a series of activities designed to not only encourage proper menstrual health hygiene, but also to bring this topic to light among the public and destigmatise menstruation in Malaysia.
With the approval of Jabatan Kemajuan Orang Asli (JAKOA), Aurelius Healthcare has partnered with Libresse to distribute pads and panty liners to over 500 women and girls from the Kampung Sungai Mahang Orang Asli village in Nilai, Negeri Sembilan.
The team was able to spend time with the community and provide educational tips on how to maintain good menstrual hygiene.
Aurelius Healthcare is also working with the Department of Environment on its Kempen Hindari Penggunaan Plastik Sekali Guna (Campaign To Avoid The Use Of Disposable Plastics), to educate the public on proper disposal of menstrual health products, as well as other environmentally-friendly alternatives.
This month-long education and awareness campaign is spread across educational institutions in Negeri Sembilan, with activities such as health talks by doctors from Aurelius Hospital Nilai, distribution of educational posters and leaflets in schools, an ‘Adopt-A-School’ programme that supplies sanitary care products to students, and more.
These educational institutions include Kolej Tunku Kurshiah in Seremban and Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan (Cina) Kuo Min in Nilai.
To extend the campaign’s reach, Aurelius Healthcare teamed up with Kartini Ariffin, a local entrepreneur, producer, and professional speaker. Kartini shared her personal menstruation experiences with young girls as she hosted the school campaign event.
During the group’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) outreach programme, she also visited the Orang Asli village in Kampung Sungai Mahang to meet some of the girls and women there.
Aurelius also used its social media platforms to spread the word and share handy period-related tips from Aurelius Hospital Nilai’s doctors and gynaecologists, through its #RespectMyCycle hashtag.
“Menstrual hygiene is something that we need to talk about openly, as it is vital to the empowerment and well being of women and girls worldwide. At Aurelius Healthcare, our aim is to raise awareness about menstrual hygiene, address challenges in accessing menstrual health products, and to also break the taboo and end the stigma surrounding menstruation,” said Dr Darshini Kumaravelo, chief executive officer of Aurelius Hospital Nilai.
“We will continue to work with our partners in both the public and private sector to make an impact and help alleviate period poverty in our communities.”
“Misinformation and lack of resources can lead to unhealthy menstrual health practices, which is why it is so important to prioritise education, awareness, and action regarding menstrual hygiene,” said Dr. Azizah Binti Rusly, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Aurelius Hospital Nilai.
“Understanding the basic facts related to the menstrual cycle is key to teaching our young women how to manage it with confidence and dignity.
“As health care professionals, it is our responsibility to bridge this knowledge gap and destigmatise menstruation, in hopes that this will foster a safe, open, and shame-free space for all women and girls,” she added.